The BBC editor said the decision to halt the distribution of the AstraZeneca Covid jab was not “ideal” as Germany continues to struggle with the rollout of the vaccination programme. Angela Merkel confirmed the suspension on Tuesday, citing concerns about rare blood clotting cases as the reason behind the decision. Speaking to Newscast, Katya Adler said: “Angela Merkel said they’ve now had 31 cases of rare blood clots in people who’ve had the AstraZeneca vaccine, most of them women under the age of 60.
“For that reason, they’re stopping the use of the vaccine.
“More than two million Germans have already had one dose and they’ll now have to wait until the end of April to find out whether their second jab can come from a different vaccine or what the medical judgement will be by that point.”
Ms Adler continued: “Angela Merkel looked knackered, I have to say.
“She knows Germany, like many other European countries, is short of vaccine supplies, this is not an ideal situation, not being able to use it for the under-60s.
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“She insisted this was about building trust and saying to Germans that even very rare, rare occurrences like these blood clots would be taken seriously and investigated and that’s why the Government and the medical authorities of Germany have taken the decision.”
Germany had previously imposed a general ban on the AstraZeneca vaccine amid blood clotting concerns.
Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) however dismissed the claims and gave their seal of approval to the jab.
Most European countries resumed the use of the jab bar Denmark, who last week announced the suspension would be extended while more reviews were being conducted.
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Canada also put the distribution of the jab on pause for the under-55s due to a potentially increased risk of blood clotting among younger recipients.
The EMA said a causal link between unusual blood clots in people who have had the vaccine is “not proven, but is possible”, adding that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 outweighed the risks of side effects.
The EMA said it was meeting on Wednesday in the context of its ongoing review of “very rare cases of unusual blood clots associated with low numbers of platelets” in people who have also had the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The regulator said that at present the review has not identified any specific risk factors, such as age, gender or a previous medical history of clotting disorders, for these “very rare” events.
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Speaking at a press briefing, EMA executive director Emer Cooke said: “According to the current scientific knowledge, there is no evidence that would support restricting the use of this vaccine in any population.”
Ms Cooke said 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) have been reviewed out of 9.2 million people in the European Economic Area (EEA).
The EMA said: “A causal link with the vaccine is not proven but is possible and further analysis is continuing.
“As communicated on March 18, EMA is of the view that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19, with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death, outweigh the risks of side effects.”
Ms Cooke was asked if a link between the rare cases of blood clots and the vaccine is likely, and she said: “At the moment at this stage of our investigations the link is possible and we cannot say any more than that at this point.”